L.A. Doesn’t Wait for AQMD, Sues to Block Neighborhood Oil Wells from Restarting

Screen shot 2014-01-08 at 2.00.51 PMLos Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer sued Allenco Energy Inc.on Tuesday to keep shut oil wells it operates between the University of Southern California and downtown while investigators look into complaints of illness among nearby low-income residents.

Allenco closed the wells in November after Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) called for a suspension of operations. Boxer made her plea after members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suffered some of the same symptoms as residents during a tour of the facility.

The closure by Allenco was voluntary while it negotiated with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) for an agreement that would allow its pumping to resume. But a number of critics think the agency has been complacent and unwilling to challenge the company despite 251 complaints over a three-year period and the issuance of 15 citations for various violations. They want something more (pdf) than self-reporting by Allenco on air quality around the site.